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I have been researching a vegan diet and lifestyle it makes a lot of sense to me. It fits with my concerns regarding animals and the way they are mistreated. But it seems I must also take a B 12 supplement due to the insufficient or unreliable supply in a vegan diet. If I can't get sufficient B12 in my diet then it makes veganism seem wrong. Do you have a good counter argument?
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You can get vitamin B12 from raw mushrooms. So go Vegan all the way!
I am not a scientist, but prior to the corporate take over of the food supply, B12 was amply found in the soil and ingested with root vegetables. Organic farming sustains the B12 microbes and I believe you can get enough B12 if you are eating organically.
Hello, vegans dont have Vit B12 problems, write John Robbins. In Parsley is enough B12. Greetings
I have been vegan for several years and recently had my blood work up include looking at B12 levels. They are fine. My sister, father, and 2 friends (that I know of) are taking B12 supplements or receiving B12 shots, monthly due to low levels. They all eat a standard american diet.
Smart omnivores take a daily multiple vitamin b/c it is the rare person whose diet is completely balanced. Same for us vegans...we take various supplements if we want to remain healthy, including one for B12. It's not difficult...like brushing your teeth, it's a habit you perform daily. Hope you decide to join us vegans and help reduce cruelty by not eating any animal products.
I've heard it said that the reason why we have B12 deficient diets is because we are so neurotically clean. Vitamin B12 actually comes from the soil, which is where the animals get it, and we scrub, wash, peel our vegetables to the point that there isn't any present... Having said that I would just like to add this comment. I am a registered nurse and I live in "cattle country," not too many vegans around here. Yet, I give an awful lot of Vitamin B12 shots to carnivores. A newer doctor in town has changed a couple of my clients from injections to oral Vitamin B12. He prescribed 1000 mcg per day orally for these clients. I take 500 mcg a day and my blood levels of Vitamin B12 are fine. Obviously, in my opinion, it's not just a vegan issue. I think there are probably a lot of carnivores/omnivores walking around with low B12 levels and don't know it because they've never had it tested. To be perfectly frank, because Vitamin B12 is manufactured by bacteria, I'm inclined to believe that the overuse of antibiotics is a factor in low B12 levels.
Actually, B12 is a weakness in any diet. Even many meat-eaters must supplement it to maintain optimal levels; and a supplement is strongly recommended for everyone over the age of 50 without regard to diet. Eating a whole foods vegan diet provides optimal nutrition to humans; and a supplement is the safest, most efficient way to get enough B12.
B12 is found in abundance in many of the supergreens...spirulina is my favorite way to get B12. supergreens are also abundant in amino acids, calcium, iron, indeed a complete form of vitamins and minerals from an easily-digestible food source. Supergreens also detoxify the body, increase energy and oxygen, balance Ph and improve general well-being.
The best answer for the b12 issue is simply dirt. We, in a more natural state, wouldn't have bothered to wash any veg or root we found to eat, and dirt is full of microbes, nutrients and of course b12. Getting food from markets makes washing more important, but gathering it from your own, or someone you trust, organic garden, just brush it off and eat it. A little dirt supplies what you need and boosts immune system to boot.
B12 is not produced by animals, it is actually produced by bacteria. B12 deficiency is common in both vegans and non-vegans alike because the reality is, we are supposed to be able to obtain enough from our natural environment but in our over-sterilized world there are no reliable sources for non-vegans or vegans. As an example a study conducted Western Human Nutrition Research Center and Program in International Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA 95616, USA.This review summarized available data on plasma vitamin B12 and folate concentrations in the Americas. At least 40% of individuals had deficient or marginal plasma vitamin B12 concentrations in almost all locations and across age groups.B12 deficiency has been found with relatively high frequency among vegetarian Indian immigrants in England, while it is supposedly uncommon among native Indians with identical dietary patterns (3, 4).
Healthy Indian subjects have a more extensive amount of bacteria in their small intestine than people in the West (3).Albert MJ, Mathan VI, Baker SJ. Vitamin B12 synthesis by human small intestinal bacteria. Nature. 1980;283(Feb 21):781-2.4. Refsum H, Yajnik CS, Gadkari M, Schneede J, Vollset SE, Orning L, Guttormsen AB, Joglekar A, Sayyad MG, Ulvik A, Ueland PM. Hyperhomocysteinemia and elevated methylmalonic acid indicate a high prevalence of cobalamin deficiency in Asian Indians. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Aug;74(2):233-41.5. No author.
Contribution of the microflora of the small intestine to the vitamin B12 nutriture of man. Nutrition Reviews. 1980 Aug;38(8):274-5Albert et al. (3) (1980) measured B12 production of bacteria in the small intestines of people in India using a Euglena gracilis Z assay. Results were confirmed by an Ochromonas malhamensisassay, which is thought to be specific for active B12. They determined that some active B12 was produced by members of the bacteria genera Klebsiella and Pseudomonas. Further confirmation using chromatography and bioautography showed a molecule with similar properties to cyanocobalamin. Albert et al. speculated that when Indians migrate to the West, their digestive tracts become like those characteristic of people in Western countries: with little or no bacteria in their upper small intestines.
An article in Nutrition Reviews (5) (1980) suggested some alternative causes of Indian immigrants to Britain having more B12 deficiency than Indian natives: •In India, water is contaminated with various bacteria, including those from human and animal feces.• The practice of defecating in open fields and lack of proper sewage.• The mode of toilet hygiene where water is used instead of toilet paper.Halstead et al. (8) reported that some Iranian villagers with very little animal product intake (dairy once a week, meat once a month) had normal B12 levels. None had megaloblastic anemia. Their average B12 level was 411 pg/ml which was quite high considering their diet. The authors speculated this could be because their diets, which were very low in protein, allowed for B12-producing bacteria to ascend into the ileum where the B12 could be absorbed. They also speculated that because they lived among their farm animals and their living areas were littered with feces, they picked up enough B12 through contamination.
Halstead et al.'s 1960 report was in contrast to Wokes et al.'s 1955 report (9) in which numerous British vegans were found to have neurological symptoms of B12 deficiency.Antony AC. Prevalence of cobalamin (vitamin B-12) and folate deficiency in India--audi alteram partem. Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Aug;74(2):157-9.8. Halsted JA, Carroll J, Dehghani A, Loghmani M, Prasad A. Serum vitamin B12 concentration in dietary deficiency. Am J Clin Nutr. 1960 May-Jun;8:374-6The problem is not with a vegan diet, the problem is with an over-sterilized world, our water is extremely sterilized, we use anti-bacterial soaps, pesticides, consume antibiotics frequently etc....
Chlorine is in our drinking water which prevents adequate colonization of friendly flora throughout the intestinal tract that would produce adequate B12. Studies have found frequent B12 deficiency in the general population as well, not just vegans. This is why B12 is added to cereals and processed foods because it has been determined that everyone needs supplementation. It is not possible in our modern world to live in a way that is conducive to healthy B12 levels. Take a B12 supplement knowing that doing so has nothing to do with your vegan diet but just our overly sterilized modern society.
As I understand it, there was a time when the soil was not as depleted of nutrients as it is today. Until such time as the soil became depleted, there was sufficient B12 available through the consumption of plants. I know this was a problem for me, at first, also, until I discovered this fact. I hope this helps.
B-12 can be obtained by drinking water from sources where there is a trace of animal waste - such as the water sources for our ancestors and parts of the world where there is a lack of clean water. In most 1st world countries, today's water is cleaned of these impurities. This is a tradeoff between sanitation and the ability to ingest some of our essential nutrients from a natural source.
Having grown up in a family of heavy meat and dairy eaters, I've seen first hand just how unhealthy those particular dietary choices have made us all. Clogged colons, spotty skin, low energy and plenty of health problems that can easily be contributed to the consumption of animal products. They all think I'm nuts for not continuing to eat like them, but my body is healthier and I look much younger and feel better for the change. This claim that a B12 supplement is necessary in order for vegans to be healthy is simply somebody repeating something they read or heard from someone else, rather than actual knowledge based on education in dietetics or personal experience. Our soil is depleted of minerals and the majority of produce we have available to us does not have the vitamin and mineral content that it should, and a good vitamin and mineral supplement is necessary for all, regardless of their chosen diet.
I have been vegan for a little over a year and have yet to take a vitamin supplement and I never will. Just today in my juice there was 100% of my daily value of B12, there was also B12 in my cereal I had this morning with almond milk and for lunch there was B12 in my meat substitute. That is just to name a few.
It seems to me that eating a vegan diet when supplemented with Vitamin B-12 is a very healthful way to live. The word "Natural" is used in the original question and it is this word I feel most compelled to address. At this point and time in history I would say that it makes more sense to eat a healthful diet of whole foods (beans, fruits, seeds, veggies, nuts) and supplement with a very small amount of B-12. REAL FOODS.This seems most NATURAL to me. The diet that so many Americans "think" is healthy is causing increased disease not to mention a rise in obesity. One could say that eating an omnivorous diet with "free range" animal flesh is healthy , but I beg to differ. For starters maybe you would be getting B-12 , but at what cost? For an omnivore to get her/his B-12 a living being must suffer as if in a concentration camp (denied the love of their children, confined (sometimes the Free range isn't so FREE!) , raped (artificially inseminated in a rape rack) and then murdered. These methods are all organic and can be stamped FREE RANGE. The only thing that is often organic is the feed that they eat. This isn't the romantic picture most people picture.Sounds intense, huh? It wasn't too long ago that a person could get all their needed B12 from eating a healthy vegan diet without supplementation. Why? The earth's top soil contained it. Unfortunately, the earth's topsoil is eroding and over farming and mono-cropping isn't helping. Cow's who are actually able to freely graze on public lands get THEIR B12 from the soil and people who unfortunately eat them get it because it is stored in their flesh. Also, many processed foods are fortified with B12. If the animals have never been outside to experience daylight in the first place, graze on real soil, etc.... you can bet B-12 is supplemented into THEIR feed, then you are getting a B12 supplement through a filtered source. And my counter question is how healthy is that? It seems like a lot of suffering ( for both animals, people and the earth) for such a small quantity of B12. I would say it seems more natural to eat of the plants and foods of the earth and pass up the rotting animal flesh.
There is so much we do now that isn't totally natural...we live in houses, use artificial light, watch television, use computers, wear clothes, fly in airplanes, drive cars...all these things are not totally natural, either. My husband and I feel that being vegan, while it may not be totally natural (most of our ape cousins eat insects and small amounts of animal protein), has so many benefits to our health, our planet, and our fellow creatures that share our planet...that being vegan is well worth it. We take vegan B-12 (we don't eat insects) and we don't worry about it. I've been vegan 7 years...last year my MD wanted to test my B-12...it was normal.
Emily and Jenny:
Yes, veganism is a diet that requires particular attention and minimal supplements. However, I know that I get a much wider range and bulk of nutrients (and flavors and cuisines and vegetables etc) in general than my omnivore peers who don't think so carefully about what they eat. And I don't think the fact that I have to take a B12 vitamin outweighs all the environmental, cultural and ethical benefits of being vegan. There are certainly unhealthy vegans, but they are a small minority in the vegan community compared to the expanse of unhealthy omnivore Americans. Yay vegans!
To my knowledge, B12 was abundant in drinking water and food before our civilization sanitized them (for better or worse). When we drank rainwater or ate food we were able to get enough B12. Nowadays that doesn't happen. I think the reason cows and other animals have B12 in them is because they still eat and drink from the ground. I don't think they synthesize it inside their bodies. So the only reason a meat-eater is getting B12 is because the animal they're eating drank water or ate food that had it.
From what I've read on this subject thus far, the need to take a supplement for B-12 has been caused largely by the lack of quality top soil in farming these days. To quote from The Gluten-Free Vegan "B-12 is often scarce in over-sanitised western diets and decimated topsoil. It?s important to realise that B-12 is NOT a vegan issue - at least 40% of Americans on a standard diet are B-12 deficient... B-12 is produced by bacteria on foods (note: bacteria are not part of the animal kingdom - like plants they are not animals and do not have the capacity to suffer or conscious self-awareness), but there aren?t too many reliable vegan food sources around - but wait! There?s a good reason for this. Herbivorous animals in a ?natural? environment ingest plenty of B-12 - many species consume the nutrient in their diet, while ruminants such as cows and sheep have extra stomachs where bacteria produce B-12 internally (provided the animals consume cobalt). Apes consume up to 5% animal products, while gorillas consume up to 1% as insect contamination of their natural diet of leaves and fruit. Our great ape cousins, gorillas and chimps, do not spray their foods with synthetic or organic pesticides, nor do they wash their food or chemically sanitise and filter their water. In the wild great apes get plenty of B-12, but when they are held in captivity they also require B-12 supplements as they consume sanitised human foods, and, like the great apes, humans do not get enough vitamin B-12 from their sanitised plants and water. This doesn?t mean a vegan diet is ?unnatural? - it merely demonstrates that humans can transform many aspects of their world, and sometimes the consequences can be damaging to our health and/or the environment. Fortunately humans have also found ways to get B-12 directly from bacteria - the source of all B-12 - and make it available in a convenient, clean, cruelty-free forms through fortified foods and supplements."
Olin Idol, N.D., C.N.C.:
Interestingly, when a group of vegans were tested at Hallelujah Acres a few years ago, we found 47% were deficient in B-12 while 53% were not. What we found is that when we eat as per God's plan in Genesis 1:29 and have a good healthy balance of friendly flora, we make all of the B-12 we need in the gastrointestinal tract. Unfortunately, most people no longer have access to fresh raw foods with the beneficial bacteria as our ancestors did and our preior diets and lifestyles have compromised our friendly bacteria. With a significant imbalance in intestinal bacteria, we are unable to produce the B-12 the body needs and thus may need to resort to restoring the friendly bacteriz by way of Probiotic supplementation or we may need to supplement with a good sublingual B-12 (methylcobalamin form). It is important to note that blood test for B-12 levels may not be accurate. The most accurate way of accessing B-12 status is by way of methylmalonic acid (MMA)screening of the urine. The real issue is not with the fundamental principles of a plant based diet as based upon Genesis 1:29 but rather the negative impact of commercial raised foods, environmental conditons, and lifestyles that impair intestinal homeostasis.
Deborah Pageau B.SC.:
No. That belief comes from a lack of understanding of our digestive biology. We are primates biologically, and in nature, primates generally eat most a plant diet. They do however, have their own way of consuming the necessary B12. It's called "coprophagy". Take a deep breath before you read on... it's gross! They eat their own freshly produced excrement. Sometimes, very young human children instinctively do it too. The reason it is a source of B12 for plant eaters is that B12 is produced in our large intestine just before solid waste is expelled from the body. It cannot be absorbed in the large intestine though, it has to be consumed and absorbed in the small intestine. So, for animals in a natural environment, this is an effective system. While I appreciate the efficiency of this natural method, I'm grateful we can get the B12 we need from a little pink tablet instead! :-)
One of the reasons we vegans need supplementation for B12 is that over the centuries our bodies do not make any from the small amounts of dirt, yeasts and moulds that used to be ingested with our home grown food. Another reason is the high heat processing of even food labelled "whole food". And then many of us take a small dose B12 supplement as a precautionary measure, but in fact most of us would be fine without it. The human gut and teeth are designed to cope with vegetable foods, not animal protein. There is ample evidence that a vegan diet maintains optimal health, reverses and cures coronary disease and diabetes, and lowers obesity and blood cholesterol. Hope this is helpful.
Vitamin B12 is actually manufactured in the gut. The problem of deficiency stems from several factors. First of all, the natural bacteria in the gut has been altered in most people by all the chemicals, hormones, and antibiotics we consume. We consume chemicals in over 3300 additives in packaged foods, in artifical flavors, colors, and sweeteners, and in drugs that we take. You get hormones in your meat and dairy foods because the animal factory farming practices want the animals to grow very fast and give lots of milk. The factory farms also give the animals antibiotics almost continually. If you eat animal products, you get antibiotics. And, if you get sick, your doctor will frequently give you antibiotic prescriptions. Many people are animal eater converts, so their gut bacteria has been altered.
Second, vitamin B12 is actually manufactured out of dirt-like substances. When you eat pristine looking fruits and vegatables, they have been washed several times, even with soaps. They may also be covered with wax to make them shiny and look good. But, if you grow your own vegetables, you will have some that are not perfectly shaped and you will likely consume some soil-like substances that you just could not get off. In fact, I consume lots of vegtetables directly from the garden as I work in the garden. For instance, I will pick a tomato and wipe it off or if it looks clean I will go ahead and eat it. Corn is excellent directly from the garden and without cooking.
The proof is in the pudding. I have been vegan for about 4.5 years now. I don't take B-12 because I think it will be unnecessary. I will get a blood test and see if I am right.
Vegans in olden times were healthy into old age. Why would we be any different if we eat plenty of organic plant foods directly from the garden!
The way people ask these questions, I wonder if they really are interested in answers or not. The question here seems to already have an answer. As for as deficiencies in B12, it is debatable whether vegans need to supplement or not so most ere on the safe side and do. B12 though is not an animal product, it is bacterial that used to be found in the ground until conventional farming killed most of it in the 60s/70s. There are some recent studies that show most B12 deficiencies are actually in omnivores, and not in vegan populations. As far as whether it is natural or not, I guess it depends on what you consider natural. Factory farming is far from natural. If you really want to be natural, go back to foraging for your own food, and see what that does to your health.
Not at all. Before the intensive farming practices that we now use began, our vegetables used to be covered in bacteria that biosynthesized vitamin B12. Even washing the veggies wouldn't remove all of the bacteria & B12, so we would end up ingesting it. Nowadays, people think that the only source of B12 is animal products. Why? Because food grown for humans is sterilized, whereas food grown for "food" animals is not. Those animals ingest the B12, and when humans eat those animals, they ingest some of the B12 as well. If we would leave a little healthy dirt on our veggies (and leave the animals alone!) we'd get plenty of B12, *especially* because we're vegans, since vegans tend to eat more fresh vegetables than omnivores, and we wouldn't be getting it from a secondhand source.
Funny, I just got an email newsletter from Dr. Mercola's site. I don't agree with everything he says but he does give some good statistics. He said that in a study 81% of urban men are deficient in vitamin b12. Hmmm.... 81% of urban men are not vegans! Most of them consume way too much meat. Therefore that shos that it is not meat that provides the vitamin.
It may seem that a vegan diet is not natural if you have to take a B12 supplement, until you understand why. B12 is actually produced by micro-organisms and bacteria. When micro-organisms were plentiful in the natural soil B12 was available in plant foods as the plants would take it up from the soil, not only this but our natural intestinal flora produces B12 in sufficient amounts as well. So, in a natural world we would obtain more than enough B12.
However, Micro-organisms in the soil have been destroyed by chemical pesticides, insecticides and other industrial farming practices and our food no longer contains any B12 at all.
Our intestinal flora is destroyed not only by antibiotic use but through drinking chlorinated water, antibacterial body soaps, consumption of pesticides in our food etc... Due to the severe disruption of our natural intestinal flora this beneficial bacteria 'may' not be able to produce enough B12 for our needs, hence the need for a B12 supplement.
Our need for B12 supplement is entirely due to the unnatural way in which we live our lives. It is possible that our bodies could make enough,but there is no way to know for sure, we take probiotics but these only contain about 15 strains of bacteria, where our intestinal tract naturally contains about 400. So if you have ever taken antibiotics at any time even with probiotics your body may not be able to make enough. This is why it is recommended that vegans take B12, it is just to ensure adequate B12 because in our unnatural enviornment there is no way to know if our intestinal flora will be able to make enough and due to pesticides and chemicals in our food and water we can no longer obtain it in a natural diet.
Arnold E. Carr:
Veganism is not a natural diet for humans, if by "natural" one means that we are adapted to eat only food that comes from outside the Animal Kingdom. Humans are omnivores capable of thriving on a wide variety of foods. It seems likely to me that our ancestors benefitted from the higher protein and fat content of meat that enabled them to survive times when other food sources were scarce.
There are many things humans do that are not natural in this sense: dieting, living in houses, monogamy and riding bicycles among them. If we were content with the state of nature, we would still have a life expectancy of 30 to 40 years and there would be little of what passes for civilization.
My own attraction to veganism (I still eat eggs if they are humanely and responsibly obtained) is due to my increasing unwillingess to survive at the expense of violence to any sentient being. If a vitamin B12 tablet every day is the only concession to the unnatural one has to make, I consider it an ethical no-brainer.
Am I the worst vegan in the world? I, nor my husband take a vitamin B12 supplement. Though, I refuse to believe that a person who eats traditional American junk food and fast-food on a regular basis gets every vitamin they are supposed to in the correct amounts anyway... I feel like I probably get a MUCH more varied and certainly healthier diet even without this particular vitamin. I have friends in my life that avoid all fruits and vegetables whenever possible, isn't this worse?